The colour red (2012) { 40 images } Created 5 Dec 2016

FOR one month a year, the blood of bull and human is spilt more than ever on the sandy earth of southern France, Spain and Portugal in the name of tradition, entertainment and tourism.
Small, quiet towns awaken, arenas become full, the crowd cheer, boo and the band plays.
August, the peak of the European summer, is the peak of bullfighting season.

Every morning and afternoon, men, sometimes teenagers, stand proud, some more nervous than others, waiting in a tunnel to confront beast. There is always time for prayer in the nearby chapel or even a quick cigarette.
Two hours later they walk from the arenas tired from the intense heat, adrenaline that has been pumping through their bodies and the pressure to make it a good fight and clean kill.
Their pristine, colourful uniforms are now covered in orange dust, sweat pours down their faces, and their sleeves, bloodied. Some don't leave the way they entered because of injury or worse, while even fewer bulls leave at all.
Like a rock star, the bull fighters sign a few autographs, pose for a photo and get into an awaiting van for the next part of the tour.

For 6 days in the middle of August it is the city of Dax's turn to host a feria.
Located in the south west of France, locals are proud of the festival and their rich bullfighting history.
Amongst the seasoned and beginner bullfighters at the 2012 Feria du Dax was "Miguelito", an intimidating figure like the rest, despite their pale pink and blue uniforms.
He began bullfighting 25 years ago at the age of 15 as a 'novillero' or beginner and later became a professional banderillero, the assistant to the matador.
"This passion caught me when I was very young. My grandfather used to bring me to bullfights and there, my feelings were stirred," he said.
"When you are in front of a bull, you feel the fear and a huge respect."
He said that without ferias, the specific breed of bull will be lost along with the tradition of bullfights, bullfighters and that the economy of towns and cities across Europe would suffer.

The debate about whether bullfighting should be banned continues.

Pete Hawk
August 26, 2012
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